Where Have All the Women Gone?

10.11.13

Sometime around 1980 LAUSD opened it’s first computer magnet. My mother ran the computer lab. She didn’t have much in the way of a budget for networking but she did have kids. Mom and my brother spent weekends “making the phone talk to the computer” and ultimately networked with an elementary school in Russia where they video conferenced.

To give this all context AOL launched in 1983.

We know there’s a dearth of women in programming, engineering, math and other sciences and academics often try to explain why. Sandberg asks us all to Lean In, I’m not convinced that explains much. Marissa Meyer is a C level fashionista who declines maternity leave and is alternately seen as a heroine or nemesis by feminists. Neither woman is particularly relevant to my life as a freelancer so I find myself distant from those conversations.

I do work in tech and most often I work with and for men. I love when I’m hired by a woman because there’s a particular joy for me in knowing that women are reaching managerial levels and have budgets to include me. I am then saddened that I find it odd that women are at these levels. I love all that WITI (Women in Technology International) has to offer. I am disheartened that we need women’s groups.

This morning I went to a meeting at Alexander’s school. They’re creating a new technology curriculum and have formed a parent committee to advise. I showed up to a room full of men and was shocked. We’re talking about a K-8 school. At it’s most advanced an elementary tech curriculum will include creating a basic website using some HTML and full use of the Office Suite. Middle school is different. By middle school the kids should be exploring and finding ways to break and repair both their computers and it’s software, but I often find myself alone in believing those are good uses of time and resources.

In a school where upwards of 90% of the communication is handled via a website or email I find it curious that women aren’t interested in how technology will be implemented. Are we naturally end users? Is the gala just more interesting? I’m also the room parent at this school and have been for a number of years. I’ve never seen a father be a room parent yet we cannot call ourselves “Room Mom”.

Sometimes I feel like there are wars to be waged around girls and STEM. Booth Babes are disappearing from conferences (thank goodness) and women are rising in the ranks (not en masse but they are rising).

There is no such thing as a job without technology. I don’t care if you’re a doctor, ditch digger, interior designer or a stay at home parent. Technology has invaded our lives for better and for worse. I’m wondering what it is about the XX’s that makes us believe we aren’t interested and I’m deeply concerned that someone will tell my daughter she shouldn’t be.

 

SmartyPig.com Introduction: Teaching the Kids (and Me) Delayed Gratification

01.21.11

Recently I was introduced to SmartyPig.com. It’s an online Piggy Bank for people who are saving for specific financial goals. Which means…. what?

It means that SmartyPig is not only a fabulous way to save for something you’re longing for (or need), but it’s also an incredible way to teach your kids about money. I try to teach my kids about money, but I’m pretty sure that I fall into the same trap as a lot of parents.

I just buy them stuff.

Which strips the kids of the opportunity to learn how to save money, how to wait for things, and how to spend money. SmartyPig is a perfectly named site. It’s a smart piggy bank. Do not let the adorable icons and pink and green fool you, this is real banking. There’s a twist though.

I used to take my kids to the bank every Monday and they’d deposit a portion of their weekly allowance into a savings account. But, like I said before I buy these kids what they want, so they never really cared much about the money. Oh, except when they have friends over, then it’s like, “I have twenty bajillion dollars in the bank and I’m going to use it to buy an electric guitar and pop rocks!” And then their friends say, “Oh wow, that’s great. We have eighty three gazillion dollars in the bank and we’re going to make a whole house out of bubble gum with it.”

After the boys are done comparing how rich they are Alexander asks me to buy him an acoustic guitar. He promises he will practice every day. This I’ve heard before.

For something like an acoustic guitar SmartyPig is great for kids. Each savings goal has to begin with a $25 minimum deposit (this is the only bummer for teaching kids) and then you enter the amount that you want to save, and a timeline for the savings to occur.

What you do is decide that you want something (or your kid wants something) and you create a savings plan with about four clicks on SmartyPig. My son really wants that acoustic guitar. It’s $300. I’ve started a SmartyPig savings fund for him, and I’m giving him the first $25. Now Alexander can earn money by helping out around the house, and his allowance (remember that thing he didn’t care about?) can go straight to the guitar fund.

He sat with me while we figured out the math, and determined that he’d need $24.90 every two weeks. We made a list of jobs he could do around the house to earn $12.50 a week, and we’ll just check them off the list. The money will be automatically deducted from my checking account every two weeks. Understand that you don’t have to have any sort of automatic deposits. You can deposit as frequently or infrequently as you like. if you have a windfall add more, if it’s a tough week, deposit a dollar.

SmartyPig.com demonstration

Here’s what’s great about saving in this manner:

  • You untrain your kids to use credit cards. This is a HUGE GIFT. Teaching your kids to pay for things with money they have, as opposed to money they hope to have is the single most important money management lesson we can teach.
  • Interest: Remember home ec? Remember when we had savings passbooks and we’d get a few pennies of interest and we felt rich? I know that interest rates aren’t exactly soaring right now, but even at a modest 1.35% $1,000 will earn you another $13.50. That’s money you didn’t have.
  • Cash back on a prepaid debit card: If you use the SmartyPig  prepaid debit card you can earn up to 10% cash back. When I was an ebay seller I lived on paypal and I remember their debit card gave me just 2% cash back. At the end of the year I’d do my books and 2% was a LOT of money. Not all the retailers give 10%, it seems as if the bulk of them are between 4-6%
  • Bonuses from National Retailers: When you complete your goal you can get gift cards from national retailers complete with instant bonuses of us to 10%. Yes, Neiman Marcus is on the list. Hold. Me. Now.
  • FDIC Insured: Although online complete with widgets and the opportunity to be social, this is banking and it’s FDIC Insured.

I just set up my SmartyPig account and it was as simple as can be. Social Security Number, Driver’s License, Checking account number, and you’re done. They make two small depoisits to your account to verify it, and then they withdraw the same funds (both of my deposits were less than a dollar). In order to verify your account you have to enter the deposit amounts with Smarty Pig. The only glitch I ran into was that I entered the amounts without a zero in front of the decimal point. I entered $.43 instead of $0.43 and had to reenter the amount. If this happens to you do not panic, you just need the zero.

Redeeming matters. I remember the first time I opened up a brokerage account. I was 22 and bought some oil stock. I sold it almost immediately because I was 22 and I did not understand the stock market at all. I was confused and annoyed when they wouldn’t give me my money for five days. Although SmartyPig is savings tied to goals, it’s not holding your money hostage like a certificate of deposit or a brokerage account. It’s all there for you, and if your needs change (leaky roof or a medical emergency), you can cancel the savings goal and transfer money right back into your checking or savings account.

It’s really very smart. In setting up the goal for Alexander I started rethinking my own personal savings, and Smarty Pig is a good option for amounts up to $50,000. At $50,001 they stop paying any real interest, but that’s probably not cash that belongs in an account like this one anyhow.

Although SmartyPig is pioneering a new savings model for today’s connected family, what they’ve created is quite conservative. Bankers should love this, educators and parents should love this.

Oh, and my husband’s going to love this too, because I’ve gone ahead and created an account for us to take a tropical vacation.

This post is sponsored by SmartyPig. They know my readers are smart and fun, this is the perfect match.

Goldberg and Gottlieb: Not a Law Firm

12.23.10

If Uncle Louie ever utters the phrase, “I’ve got an idea.” You’ll probably end up in the middle of a fantastic project, with your head spinning a little bit.

If you read today’s Sachem Patch, you’ll know that I’m having a car built by Demented Customs. Not just any car though, a Mom Car.

My regular readers are well aware of my love affair with the automobile, which competes only with my love affair with technology. It’s time that I take these two passions of mine and bundle them.

I’m currently trying to locate a Ford Country Squire from the mid 7o’s, a Chevy Impala (1973 is my favorite year) or a Buick Estate wagon. If it’s a Ford it would preferably a year where there is a third row pop up back seat. I’d prefer to find one from 1975-1978 as I’m a fan of the hidden headlights. I’m open to other models as well, but the point is to locate a mid-70 station wagon that’s in decent condition.

Ford Country Squire

Here’s where it gets fun, take a look at some of the work Demented Customs is doing.

In addition to making a Chevelle beautiful (every car is beautiful in it’s own way) they put in a new engine and blower, bringing the car to 650 hp. I’m not even sure that’s legal.

In order to understand what 650 hp looks like take a look at the Porsche 997 GT2, it has 523 hp at 6500 rpm, and a top speed of 204. Demented built a beast.

In any event, the boys at Demented are willing to take my station wagon fantasies to this same crazy level. In addition to making my wagon fast and beautiful, they are committed to adding the kind of technology that every family needs. We are currently discussion how to add:

  • tablet computers for the rear seat passengers
  • a wifi hotspot
  • a vacuum (this is actually non negotiable, I need one)
  • food and drink compartments that aren’t quite cupholders (I’m only looking at 70’s cars)
  • airbags and other safety items

I’m pinching myself that everyone’s willing to go along with this wacky idea. What’s most amazing is the we’ll have the support of Goldberg (yes the Bill Goldberg of Garage Mahal), and my Mommy Mobile will ultimately make it’s way to the Barrett-Jackson auto auction to raise money for charity.

But I’m totally driving it first.

I’m getting really excited about this, and I hope to locate a car in the next few weeks so we can get the ball rolling. Up until now, we’ve been trying to find a way to make it all happen.

Look for lots of video about the making of my first custom car. I can’t wait to share this adventure with you guys.

I Gave Tech This Hanukkah: Momversation

12.15.10

Arrgghhh

I tried not to. My friend Joanne is so much better than I, but I love technology so it’s no surprise my kids do too.

Join the Momversation with Mindy, Rebecca and me. Will you be giving tech this year? I did.

I Tried Omegle So You Don’t Have To

11.27.10

I heard recently about a site called Omegle. It’s where you go to chat anonymously with strangers. I decided it try it (so you don’t have to). I’m not brave enough to try videochat (I imagine there are many Farve-eque guys there), but I did have these chats.

You can decide if it’s a good way to spend your time:

Omegle Chat Number 1:

You: hi
Stranger: Who are you
You: i’m a mom. you are?
Stranger: A mom.
Stranger: Really.
You: really? where?
Stranger: Shush, new fag.
You: and why did you logon t omegle if you don’t mind my asking
Stranger: I’m from the world wide web.
Stranger: TO TROLL NEWBFAGS
You: well, you certainly troll effectively.
Stranger: Sarcastic faggot is sarcastic.
Stranger: Hahaha.
Stranger: Mothers ALWAYS ASK FOR IT!
You: is faggot an insult? or are you gay?
Your conversational partner has disconnected.
Omegle Chat Number 2:

You’re now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!
Official messages from Omegle will not be sent with the label ‘Stranger:’. Strangers claiming to represent Omegle are lying.
Stranger: as;
Stranger: asl
You: 40, female, not looking for cybersex, are you still there?
Stranger: yes
Stranger: 21 male
Stranger: can i see wht u look like
You: no, I’m sorry, you can’t.
You: what does the L stand for? I understand A= age, and S= sex
Stranger: can u desribe what u look like
Stranger: l=location
You: Ahh, are you in the US?
Stranger: yes
You: do you use omegle a lot?
Stranger: eyyy
Stranger: yea
You: video or text?
Stranger: txt vid is a bunch of guys with there dicks out
You: LOL I suspected it would be full of guys who learn from Farve.
Stranger: haha yea what state u in
You: california.
Stranger: mind if i ask about ur life
You: I’m really curious about who is using omegle and why they might use it. I feel like an interloper.
You: My life is pretty public, I’m a blogger. I’ll probably put this on my blog. I hope you don’t mind. I won’t put anything about who you are if you decide to share with me.
Stranger: uhmmm
Stranger: only if i can see one pic of u
You: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXJLW3beis4 here’s one of my videos
You: are you a student or employed?
Stranger: military
You: ooh, thank you for that. we need you guys.
You: I’ve never tried omegle before. I was just curious what the appeal is of anonymity, besides the dumb guys with their dicks out.
Stranger: i dont know how to explain it just kinda the social aspect
You: do you prefer it to twitter?
Stranger: yes
You: what would you do if you were stuck here with another guy? I’m guessing that’s not waht you wanted?
Stranger: disconnect
You: :) see if I got launched into a private chat with another mom or another lady I’d be stuck here for hours.
You: are there better times than others to logon?
Stranger: not really
You: have you ever considered using this space with your real name?
Stranger: nopr
You: :) I’ll let you go. Thanks again for serving us all.
Stranger: what size r ur boobs
You: oh dear. goodbye.
Stranger: the leaase u can do for me putting my life on the line
You: goodnight soldier.
You have disconnected.
OMegle Chat #3:

You: what’s your favorite website?
Stranger: idk
You: then what’s set as your homepage?
Stranger: um google
You: do you use gmail then?
Stranger: no haha
You: so it’s not to logon to chats or things, it’s just where you begin?
You: how long have you been on omegle today?
Stranger: yaaa……. lol like 5 minutes
You: how many chats do you plan to have today?
Stranger: IDK
You: can I assume you’re a teenager?
Your conversational partner has disconnected.
Ugh, I realized after he/she disconnected that I must sound pervvy.
Parents: go ahead and blacklist this site from computers that your kids might use.
Everyone else: don’t bother.